When Amnesty International, a non-governmental organisation focused on human rights recently released a report titled: ‘Welcome to Hell-Fire’: torture and other ill-treatment in Nigeria’, whereby it highlighted the torture and ill-treatment meted out to suspects by the Nigeria Police Force over a 7 year period, our Police, through its Public Relations Officer, Ag. CP Emmanuel Ojukwu was quick to react, labelling some parts of the report ‘blatant falsehoods and innuendoes’.
Yes, Amnesty International is indeed wrong in calling my dear beloved country ‘Hell Fire’. No patriotic citizen, no matter how bad his country is, will lie down and let another person from another country call his dear country ‘Hell Fire’. Amnesty International is wrong here and an apology wouldn’t hurt.
Another part where Amnesty International erred is that they didn’t contact any police authority to hear their part of the torture story before publishing the so called report and as such, they didn’t balance the equation.
According to Ojukwu, “In its report under reference, Amnesty International did admit in its methodology that it visited some Police Formations and interviewed some family members of suspects. At no time in its report, did Amnesty speak or interface with the Police authorities. This obviously shows their disdain and apparent lack of character where the democratic tenets of fair hearing are concerned.
Now to where Ojukwu is wrong, torture and ill-treatment do exist in Nigeria. You can deny it or close your eyes to the truth, it won’t take away the fact that Nigerians still suffer in the hands of these men in black (or blue and black as the case may).
Your men still oppress Nigerians at every little opportunity they have. How many suspects still spend days in police cells scattered around the country without being charged to court after 24 hours as the law stipulates? In case you don’t know sir, an unannounced visits to most police stations in the country will drive home the bitter truth that ill-treatment and torture still exist.
Don’t get me wrong here, we all know that the Nigerian Police does not support torture as a means to an end as also buttressed by Ojukwu who said in his statement refuting the Amnesty International report that, “Of a truth, torture or ill-treatment is not, repeat, NOT an official policy of the Nigeria Police.”
There are many police officers out there who are dedicated to their job and do not cut corners but there are very few. These few good men are like tiny drops in the ocean. They are disciplined, committed and passionate but as said earlier, they are very few compared to the many rotten eggs we interact with on daily basis.
We still remember the mobile police officer, Nasir Muhammed, who was caught live brutalising two women in broad day light at Obalende. The last we heard of him was that he was detained at the headquarters of Lagos State Police Command in Ikeja.
I am sure the case of the Divisional Police Officer in charge of Onikan Station, SP Adekunle Awe, who allegedly raped, extorted and threatened a 31 year old cook, Idowu Akinwunmi is still fresh in our memories.
We have heard cases where policemen have shot at harmless citizens over little or no provocations at all. What do we call these acts, sir? I can go on giving you instances where Nigerians have been at the mercies of some of these disorderly men of the police force all to let you know that torture and ill-treatment still exist in Nigeria.
Another area I also want to disagree on is the statement by Ojukwu that “Besides, the Nigeria Police is women-friendly. We do not target sex workers, nor routinely adopt rape as a weapon. Instead, the Police has established a family and human trafficking unit to protect the rights of women, children and the vulnerable members of our society.” This is a blatant lie. Your men arrest sex-workers at every opportunity they have.
It seems some male members of the police force derive particular joy in this. On Fridays at Ibara Police Station in Abeokuta, the number of female detainees at the cell will surprise you. Most of the ladies are students of the Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Ojere who have gone out to ‘party’. A particular officer, who goes by the nickname ‘Explain’ should be questioned on this as he is the one who carries out such illegal raids.
What about Area ‘F’ Police Command in Lagos state? The case is the same. I said earlier, try and pay an unannounced visits to most of these police stations and you will be surprised at what you see.
It would be appreciated and would do the Police Force a lot of good if you could set up a functioning unit whereby Nigerians could report any wrong doings on the part of your men. This would serve as a two-edged sword: to show Nigerians your commitment to reforming the already rotten image of the Nigerian Police and to deter the bad eggs from basking in their shameful acts.
A paragraph out of the report by Amnesty International read, “Amnesty International found that the vast majority of complaints about torture and other ill-treatment do not lead to an investigation of any kind. In most cases involving allegations of torture by security forces that Amnesty International has documented, no proper investigations or measures have been taken to bring suspected perpetrators to justice. In cases where investigations have taken place, they were usually internal within the police or military, the findings were not made public and no criminal or disciplinary action was taken against the police or military involved. Thus, the cycle of impunity continues unabated.”
Despite the above findings being true, I remain a staunch believer in the saying that ‘the police is your friend’ and the Inspector General of Police will do the right thing.